Grows to 6ft, thistle-like purple flowers, leaves can be cooked as a vegetable. Likes well-drained soils in sunny location. Protect from extreme cold. Blanch leaves and stems as a vegetable. Remove tough outer parts of the stem, soak in water with a small amount of lemon juice for 20 minutes, then steam, boil or braise.
Boil soften stems gently for about 30 minutes. Dip in beaten egg and bread crumbs mixed with parmesan. Deep or shallow fry.
(Based on Jekka McVicar, The Complete Herb Book)